Blog 6 – The Fosters

The Fosters is an American drama show, written and produced by Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg, that aired between 2013 and 2018. It follows the lives of a lesbian couple and their biological and adoptive twin children. It paints the portrait of a not so fair foster system and the complexity that comes with adding foster kids to the family. Indeed, everything is going fine in the house until Callie and Jude arrive. They have stayed in many different foster homes in the past, each as bad as the other. When they are placed with the Fosters, things are different this time, and they end up getting adopted. I chose that show because of how much it taught me, and because of the impacts it has had on our generation’s thinking and perception of social differences.

Firstly, Callie, the main character, is who I believe to be a perfect example of strength and perseverance. From the youngest of age, after the death of her beloved mother, she had to take on the role of caregiver for her brother. And that, even if far apart and in the worst of situations. The show actually begins with her getting out of juvenile detention after having wrecked her foster dad’s car with a baseball bat, trying to defend her brother from his violent acts. She is also the one who introduced Jude to the Foster family, once again trying to get him away from the vicious man. On multiple occasions, she had to do so as she was ready to do anything for her brother to live a regular life. These situations, as well as many others, caused her to be the victim of several crimes and injustices and to ultimately build herself a thick skin. It is also due to this that Callie became a social justice fighter after getting adopted, and that I believe her to be a model of determination.

Secondly, there are two other strong characters that I believe represent well a fundamental concept of feminism; equality. Indeed, Lena and Stef Foster make up an interracial lesbian couple who have five kids under their care. They are what one can consider as unique, and they are not scared to show off their colours. In the show, it is possible to see them teach their children, as well as the viewers, valuable life lessons. For instance, Stef experiences troubles trying to organize their wedding as she realizes internalized homophobia prevents her from enjoying the event. She then has a talk with her children about the importance of accepting oneself and of always trying to find the underlying meanings behind mental obstacles. This issue is one that is common among LGBTQ+ members due to the taboo nature of sexuality. They also teach kids that the traditional composition of a family is not one that is necessary to the development of a child. As long as a proper division of labour is done, everything can work out well in the end.

Lastly, another important character on the show is Aaron, played by actor Eliott Fletcher, a trans man. His character is also one of a transgender man who is Callie’s love interests. This relationship is not one that is really common on television – transgender people’s love lives are a complete mystery to some. This new-on-screen type of love demonstrated to the youth watching the show that it is fine to be different and to be attracted to difference. Throughout the episodes he was in, he tried to convey this message of positivity and acceptance of oneself. His presence in the show got the support of the trans community, furthermore spreading awareness and the normalization of trans individuals in the media.

All in all, The Fosters is one of my favourite shows for many reasons, the main one being that it paints the portrait of a world that actually represents modern society. It conveys incredible messages and, even if it controversial for some, this series demonstrates perfectly this need for change and acceptance that society longs for. I have yet to find another show that so brilliantly touches all taboo subjects, trying to normalize things such as the existence of other sexual identities and orientations. Hopefully, people will learn from the show and model their own version of it so that more generations get to understand the importance of living in a society promoting equality.


Blog 5 : Feminism is for everybody

Society’s expectations of men have always been a cause for pressure as males’ image is seen as one of power and control in most – if not all – cultures and is embedded in our every behaviour, thought and beliefs. Thanks to the passing down of such values, the idea of redefining masculinity has been put off for women to rise against sexism. The fear of failing the meeting of such social expectations has escalated within men and is an issue discussed in both Bell Hooks and Michael Kimmel’s texts.

Indeed, in Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia,” light is shed on this subject that is deemed taboo. He talks about how modern perception of feminism is entirely shaped by women, which ultimately does not take notice of existing men’s concerns. According to him, “[t]he great secret of American is: We are afraid of other men.” (p.147) What he means by that is that what men fear most is not their loss of power with the gain of rights for women, but rather the image they diffuse to others. From a young age, they are taught to learn what is adequate for boys from what is not, and to build on their own gendered lenses as they go on with their lives. They are taught to dominate others and to face challenges without saying a word. If they dare neglect their role, social exclusion may entail. Kimmel’s main idea behind that sentence is that not only are women bounded by social expectations, but so do men, and that is what prevents them from accepting the notion that patriarchy should be eliminated.

In the same order of idea, Kimmel also mentions that “feminism has tended to assume that individually men must feel powerful.” (p.149) What he means by that is that women have been so focused on their battle against the patriarchy that they have forgotten that males are not the cold-hearted figures there are trying to pass on and that their individual experiences vary from one to another. They are all expected to have all of the power but often forget that this is nearly impossible as there will always be someone at the top of the chain. If they were to redefine masculinity, this fight for power would not take so much of their time and energy, bringing them a lot of relief, and would ultimately redefine the relationship between men and women as a whole.

As for Hooks, in her text “Understanding Patriarchy,” she conveys a similar message with more focus put on how “patriarchy as a system remains intact, and many people continue to believe that it is needed if humans are to survive as a species.” (p.4) She goes on to compare both women’s and men’s perceptions of feminism to explain how this phenomenon persists. With women denouncing their role as victims, they also portray men as the main committers of such a social injustice. Only, they do not realize that they too are perpetrators of patriarchal thinking and that their fighting against sexism only makes men ” dismiss [patriarchy] as irrelevant to their own experiences” as they cannot conceive the idea that they too are victims of its sufferings. Due to this, they cannot work hands in hands to end patriarchy and instead maintain this lifestyle. Hooks finishes her texts by suggesting that” [t]o end male pain […] we have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy.” (p.5) By doing so, issues such as sexism and homophobia would slowly disappear since focus would stop being put on gendered beliefs, and would instead be placed on issues of equality. Traits deemed as feminine would stop being associated with sexuality and would thus stop the spreading of hate towards non-heterosexuals since men would learn to accept themselves and embrace their unique features. This could also influence racism as values would be revisited.

Personally, both these texts really opened my eyes to men’s experience with patriarchy. I have never given any thought to this subject and have gotten a better understanding of what it is like to be a man nowadays and of why it can be hard for some of them to take us, hardcore feminists, seriously. All in all, more focus should be put on men’s version of the situation so that masculinity can be redefined and real change start to occur.

Blog 4.5 – International Women’s Week

The event I chose to go to is the Slav & Kanata Debacle. It was presented by two women who fought against Robert Lepage when he tried to put on two different plays, Slav & Kanata, about cultures he is no part of – and clearly know nothing about. Those two women were Nakuset, a Cree woman who participated in a meeting with Lepage to criticize his attempt at the representation of Aboriginal communities in his play, and Elena Stoodley, a woman working in the theatre industry who helped revise Lepage’s show on black slavery. The key message of their discussion was that white men hold most of the power in society and that it requires a lot of talking, convincing and arguing to change their minds and to pass on to important messages. They both, in the name of their people, took a stand against the propagation of false information and for their right to be able to tell their own story the way it should be told.

           Most students in the audience seemed to enjoy the talk and to relate to it in some way. Some of them asked questions about the speakers’ feelings relating to their specific fight against Lepage, and I remember one of them asking what they thought the limits of artistic freedom should be since that’s the main argument Robert Lepage used against their criticism. What struck me the most, however, was that barely anyone had heard about both those stories before. Even if Nakuset and Elena mutually concluded that mostly the francophone indigenous and black communities responded to Lepage’s work, I was still surprised since these stories attracted a lot of media attention over time. Both this element and the presentation itself made me realize that with all our different backgrounds, sometimes, it is hard to learn about everything that links us and everything that makes us different as humans. The only thing that matters, however, is to own up to the fact that we are not all-knowing creatures and that it is fine not to know a lot about some subjects. The first step towards that acceptance, in the case of Quebec, should be for the province to let go of their embarrassment about colonialism and to own up to what they did.

Indeed, other situations as such could happen, and men’s envy to show off their knowledge – and ‘’artistic freedom’’ – could eventually change the narrative about what is to be known about cultural matters that are not theirs to talk about. If we stop teaching kids that black culture started existing with slavery and that our relationships with Indigenous communities were always perfect, maybe fewer individuals would be biased and more would develop more meaningful respect and an interest in those cultures. To do so, we have to put them and their stories at a more critical level because, just like Elena Stoodley said: ‘’there is never appreciation when there is no equality’’ and their cultures deserve the same respect as the Western one.

Blog 4 : Catherine McKenna

The inspirational woman I chose to talk about for my oral presentation is Catherine McKenna, the current Canadian Minister of Infrastructure & Communities. She actually became the first female Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre in 2015, where she was honoured Minister of Environment and Climate Change. She was born on August 5th, 1971, in Hamilton, Ontario, and attended many prestigious Canadian Universities such as Toronto University, McGill University & the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has worked as a lawyer for years as well as a professor at the Munk Global School of Affairs and Public Policy, and she has also played a significant role as a negotiator for the United Nations. Currently, she is working on keeping the city of Ottawa clean by deploying clean energy and solutions, but also on reducing plastics in our oceans, and expanding our national parks. She loves interacting with people from the community and making sure that the local economy keeps on growing.

McKenna is like me in the sense that I, too, am aspiring to become a human rights and social justice lawyer and would like to make an impact on the world. However, she is different than me because she dares to stand up and talk about environmental issues that are currently subject to conflicts, even with the label of “Climate Barbie” stuck to her back. McKenna is determined and has no fear of speaking her truth, and that is something I would never have the guts to do. First of all, I am far from being as great as a speaker as she is. Secondly, I would never gather enough courage to do it as well as she does while knowing some individuals take fun in turning my words into jokes. And those things are actually the reasons why I chose her. When I first looked at her description, I saw parts of what I aspire to be in her. McKenna is inspirational because you can see that she loves what she does and that she has worked really hard to get to that important position of power. She owns her place with such pride that, even if she has not done a lot to change the world as a whole, seeing that she could eventually, her, a woman, change important features of the Canadian world is already impressing. An inspirational person to me is someone who is driven by their goals and by what they love. Someone who, just like Catherine McKenna, is determined to bring changes to the world.

Blog 3 : Aboriginal Gender Norms

”Gender and Culture Diversity in the Early Contact Period” discusses the culture of the diverse Indigenous communities living on the continent, in the early days of New France settlement, and emphasizes the importance, or lack thereof, given to gender in these communities. During that time, most Aboriginal groups were living off of hunting-gathering, fishing of agricultural practices, taking advantage of the multitude of resources around them. Both men and women took on over the work and shared the tasks. All of egalitarian attitudes, the continent was inhabited by a mix of matrilineal and patrilineal societies. Men were considered leaders in most cases, but women still occupied positions of authority and had the right to participate in the decision-making process of everyday life. Also, in some communities, both men and women could take on the role of shaman. In general, the distribution of power among gender differed greatly from one group to another, and most often than not, it was attributed based on lineage and past experiences rather than on one’s sex. A third gender called the ”two-spirit” also lived within some of these groups, but each had its own way of interpreting and understanding this reality. In most cases, these two-spirited individuals held particular cultural and social roles. Overall, men and women of Indigenous societies shared power and were seen as equals in most aspects of life.

When comparing these old ways of living to the modern western ones, I realize that there are as many differences as there are similarities. Indeed, even if women were seen as equals, just like us, men still held more power over women than women held over men. However, for a long time, this was not the case in western societies. Women’s work was seen as worthless, and they could not get the same job opportunities as men, even if they had better credentials than them and were more fit for the position. Also, everything in western culture has always been genderized, but never – or almost never – in aboriginal ones, and this is what has struck me the most. That, and their acceptance towards homosexuality. I feel like their way of living is so ordered and well put together, that gender should play a more significant part in their everyday life. I always thought that them living in harmony came from a system similar to our old one, where gender was put over skills. Otherwise, nothing else really struck me about Aboriginal communities since I learned a lot about them in a class I took last semester.

Blog 2 – Society’s expectations of women

Historically, women have practically always been put under the power of their male counterparts and that, in every and any spheres of their lives. Whatever their social status, their ethnicity and their age, the role of caregiver has always been expected to be taken on by them and that, as well as the expectation of constantly being accommodating and submissive. As years have gone by, change has occurred, and women have been gaining in freedom and power, but some harmful gender norms have kept on strong and ultimately stayed embedded in our way of living.

When it comes to women’s appearance, it is still subject to restrictions, judgment and unattainable standards and has made more than one feel trapped in a box that did not match their inner-self (The Value of Women, n.d.). Defying the norm would lead one to be looked down upon and not to be appreciated at one’s fair value. This need for approval has recently generated a kind of fear within the population and, ultimately, has led to the arrival of a new beauty-based culture. With skincare routines, laborious regimes and cosmetic surgery evolving and taking over our society, the focus has been put on this rigid idea of ultimate beauty and has led to the creation of a race for who can exceed society’s expectations first. Its rules require one to be cautious not to be too manly or too feminine and to carefully balance every aspect of their looks – because God knows that only one false move, one crooked tooth, can create madness over which everyone will talk about and cause one to reach the bottom podium of the race.

As for society’s expectations of women’s behaviours, it is relatively similar. They are to act in ladylike manners and not to let their emotions take over their decisions – because it is known to all, of course, that women are predisposed to dramatic and irrational personalities. They are, instead, to take care of household chores and to please their husbands’ needs and wants at all times, because that’s what they do best. Everything is based on how one’s family, self and life looks, and not on how one feels. As mentioned before, luckily, those kinds of expectations have slowly died down over the years. Only, the world we live in still refers to those times and refuse to grasp the fundamental idea that women are equal to men and have the same cognitive abilities. Also, I am not stating, per se, that men have it easy compared to women when it comes to social standards, but women are to constantly run after this image of perfection, to carry it even through the roughest of times, all while fighting to get more of that freedom that men have. Yes, change has occurred through the years, but a lot is still to be made if we want, one day, for all to be considered as equals.

The Value of Women. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Blog 1 : Feminism

Feminism is a term that, once you have heard, might sound simple as first. But the stories behind it and the negativity that is associated to that word are what many people are trying to fight against.

Both Valenti and Hook describe feminism as a movement that many perceive as being led by crazy lesbians, considered as beings from a totally different planet here to take over the world. They both debunk this ‘’myth’’ by explaining that society has made it so that everything is harder for women to reach since barriers are continuously blocking their path, and superficial standards are expected from them at all times. What differs between the two authors is the fact that Hook uses more of a political perspective to analyze feminism, appealing to an older and more intellectual public. In contrast, Valenti uses her anger, her personal opinions and recent events to do the same and to reach anyone ready to be shaken up by her choice of language, no matter the age. Feminism is important to both of them in the sense that they both believe that we are all born equal and should thus also live as equals.

Based on what I have read, the definition of a feminist is one where someone believes in human rights and equality. It is also the idea that one does not have to proclaim oneself a feminist to truly be one; one can simply feel for others and understand their struggles. However, this definition is not one that many WANT to understand, and it is fine, as long as all the good they have been unconsciously doing – because not everyone is all evil – keeps on getting done. This description of the term is not entirely different than the initial idea I held of it in terms of meaning, but I have to admit that my reading of the texts has given me a much stronger sense of belonging to it, and to the ideologies and the ways of life attached to it.

A section from Valenti’s essay that really caught me off guards and made me stop to think for a moment is when she mentioned that we are all brought up to believe that something is wrong with us because this is what society wants us to believe. It has made me realize that this mentality is one that has been purposely indoctrinated on society, and that does not exist only because of historical events. The powerful men of the world are ready to do anything to stay in a position of dominance, and they know how to do it perfectly. It is by perpetuating these false beliefs on feminism and womanhood in general, that they do so, which also explains why feminism is a fight that still needs to be fought for today. It is after some research on both authors that I have confirmed this thought and that I have realized that feminism has a bright future ahead. If it is possible for one to be as successful as these two women, and to be followed by millions of individuals for works on an issue that is said to be ‘’resolved’’, it is that work still is to be done and that more people are interested in the matter than initially alleged.